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Girls ATW Analysis
By: Kevin Milsted

Mocorunning has closed the book on its tenth outdoor track season, and since almost the beginning there were "Athlete to Watch" standards which automatically pulled athlete names out in a little special section on their team page if they achieved certain standards. Those standards have remained largely unchanged for the past decade. This article deep-dives into a statistical analysis of those standards based on actual performances and explains the changes that will be made to those standards in the coming weeks.

Generally, I want the standards to represent the top 8 to 10 performances in the county in an average year for outdoor track events. For indoor track events, I aimed for a top 6 to 8 performance in an average year. Montgomery County private schools are included in the analysis. Some consideration was given to the number of yearly participants in each event based on Mocorunning's performance database. Some consideration was also given to the number of state titles Montgomery County athletes have won in each event in the past decade, which is reflective of how dominant the county athletes have been in a given event on the state level. But sometimes, in the face of my own statistical analysis, I simply made the standards nice round numbers that are easy to remember.

The below figure summarizes the girls athlete to watch analysis. The athlete-to-watch standards for relay events were analyzed last summer and are excluded from this article. The cross country 5k standard was not considered for change.

Every event is discussed below and is accompanied by a chart and graph. The chart shows the top 25 performances by county athletes in each event each of the last ten years. Only one performance per athlete is used. Only automatic timing was used for events 200 meters and shorter. The two shaded colors that you will see on every chart represent the old standard and the new standard. The graph to right of each chart is a representation of the data in the chart. It is fun to look at these colorful lines, especially the datapoints representing the #1 athlete in the county each year, but for this analysis I focus-in on the line which represents the 10-year average and where it crosses the #8 to 10 performances in the county each year. The graph also helps me notice outlier years where the county depth was much stronger or weaker than all other years.

Girls 55m

Old Standard: 7.60
New Standard: 7.50

A couple things jump out when looking at this chart. The girls in 2006 were not terribly fast, and the girls of 2015 made a mockery of this 55m standard of 7.60. It's hard to say which year is more of an outlier and if the improvement of county girls will continue to accelerate. For now, I will lower the standard from 7.60 to 7.50. If 15 girls blow away that standard next year, maybe I will readjust the standard in a year's time.

Girls 100m

Old Standard: 13.00
New Standard: 12.70

13.00 is a nice even number, but it turned out to be the most lenient of all the girls athlete-to-watch standards. I'm going to implement a massive cut all the way down to 12.70 with auto timing which should allow about 10 girls per year to achieve the standard.

Girls 200m

Old Standard: 26.50
New Standard: 26.00

I can't say anything more about the improvement of the MoCo sprinters over the last decade. 26.50 seconds hardly seems like anything special when three or four girls are going under 25 seconds every year. The new standard of 26.00 with auto timing should allow 9 to 10 girls to achieve the standard each year.

Girls 300m

Old Standard: 43.0
New Standard: 42.5

Like all the other events, county girls have shown great improvement in the 300m and it is yet to be determined if the 2014/2015 seasons are outliers or the new trend. Lowering the standard from 43.0 to 42.5 will decrease the number of girls who achieve the standard from over 11 per year to approximately 8 per year.

Girls 400m

Old Standard: 60.0
New Standard: 59.0

It's a big leap from 60 seconds to 59 seconds, but I think lowering the standard to 59 is necessary with sometimes over 20 county girls running under 60 seconds in a year. Nine to ten girls should achieve the new standard of 59 seconds each year moving forward.

Girls 500m

Old Standard: 1:22.0
New Standard: 1:22.0

The girls 500m should probably be somewhere between 1:21 and 1:22, but I want to keep a nice round number in this case. I will keep the standard at 1:22 unless MoCo girls make it more obvious that the standard needs to be adjusted.

Girls 800m

Old Standard: 2:24.0
New Standard: 2:23.0

I'm going to lower the girls 800m standard from 2:24 to 2:23 to slightly reduce the number of girls who achieve the standard each year from 12 to the 10-11 range.

Girls 1600m

Old Standard: 5:25.0
New Standard: 5:20.0

With nearly 15 county girls per year running sub-5:25 miles, this standard needs to be made more difficult. The standard will be lowered to 5:20.0 for this event in which MoCo girls have won 16 state titles in the last ten years.

Girls 3200m

Old Standard: 12:00.0
New Standard: 11:40.0

There have been years in which running two 6-minute miles back to back would earn a state title. And then there was the last ten years in which an average of 17 county girls clocked sub-12:00 3200 each year. After the 100m, the 3200m standard has proven to be the easiest for county girls to accomplish. So how low do we go? How about all the way down to 11:40. It seems like a tough standard, but it has been exceeded 99 times over the last ten years.

Girls 55m Hurdles

Old Standard: 9.50
New Standard: 9.10

A standard of 9.50 seconds allowed over 11 girls per year to achieve the girls 55m hurdles standard, which is too high for the lowest participation event after the pole vault. Lowering that standard to 9.10, just a smidge above 9 seconds with auto timing, will allow about 6 girls per year to achieve the standard.

Girls 100m Hurdles

Old Standard: 16.50
New Standard: 16.00

The girls 100m hurdles standard will be lowered from 16.50 to 16.00. 10 county girls per year have achieved that standard since 2009.

Girls 300m Hurdles

Old Standard: 47.5
New Standard: 48.0

At last we have reached a standard which seems to be set too strictly. Until last year, only about 6 girls per year achieved the standard of 47.5, and I want a target of 8 to 10 girls per year. Raising the standard to 48.0 should accomplish that.

Girls High Jump

Old Standard: 5-00
New Standard: 5-00

No need to tinker with the girls high jump standard of 5 feet. An average of 9.8 girls have achieved the standard each year over the last decade.

Girls Long Jump

Old Standard: 16-00
New Standard: 16-06

Slowly over the past decade, 17 feet has become the new 16 feet...almost. I am going to raise the standard from 16 feet to 16-06, and if a dozen girls continue jumping 17 feet each year, this event will be a candidate for the standard to be adjusted again in the future.

Girls Triple Jump

Old Standard: 33-00
New Standard: 35-00

The girls triple jump standard is due for a major increase. In 2006, the indoor county meet record was 33-01. Over the last decade, 16 girls per year have eclipsed 33 feet and it is one of the lowet participation events after the pole vault and 55m hurdles. Increasing the standard all the way to 35 feet will still allow 8 to 10 girls per year to achieve it.

Girls Shot Put

Old Standard: 33-00
New Standard: 33-00

The graph shown here conjures memories of Claudia Ababio and Ozioma Edokobi and just how good they were. But the point of this analysis is to determine the mark representative of an 8th to 10th place county performance. The original standard of 33 feet seems to work perfectly and I will not change it at this time.

Girls Discus

Old Standard: 100-00
New Standard: 90-00

In college, there is a term called "curve busters" which describes one or two people who perform so well that they break the curve for everyone else taking the exam. In the last decade, Claudia Ababio and Ozioma Edokobi were curve busters in the discus, but we can disregard them for analyzing "athlete to watch" standards. The girls discus standard of 100 feet was selected because it was a nice round number, but after ten years it is obvious that that standard was just too tough with usually only 2-5 girls hitting the standard each year. I am going to lower the standard to 90 feet to allow 8 to 9 girls per year to hit it.

Girls Pole Vault

Old Standard: 7-00
New Standard: 8-00

The stat analysis here doesn't mean a thing due to low participation in the pole vault. It is rare for 8 girls to participate in a given year so it is hard to assess what is an "athlete to watch." I am going to raise the standard from 7 feet to 8 feet on the basis that 70% of girls participating in the pole vault have cleared 7 feet over the past ten years and 8 feet is the opening height at the state championship. On average, three county girls per year (or 48% of participants) will hit that standard.


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